In 2023 VoIP is so much more than voice — its complete communications: voice, text, video and more. But where should business owners begin when considering which system to choose? We sat down with Brian Gregory, LightHouse’s VoIP Services Director for the 411 on the latest Best VoIP options for 2023.
LH: Brian, LightHouse represents a few different VoIP systems.
Brian: That’s right we offer three different systems. Basic, fully featured and specialty.
LH: How do you determine which systems to represent?
Brian: We are rigorously testing systems all the time! At this point we are testing well over 50 systems regularly. We look at quality, reliability, features and we use tools to test our client’s environment and conduct simulations. The vendors we represent have to tick all the boxes: call quality, certainly, but also reliability, support and feature sets. You don’t want your system crashing when the VoIP provider releases an update!
LH: Today, its so much more than simply voice calling…so much more than Voice over IP…
Brian: That’s right, its really communications: voice, text, video calling. Its known as Omni-Channel. And its not just voice, text etc, it can be over social media platforms as well: Facebook Messenger, Twitter and the like. Some businesses need some of the features, others need all.
LH: So when you walk into a business, how do you right size your recommendation to the business’ needs.
Brian: First, we need to really understand how business is conducted. It’s really about how they use the phone in their business. And that’s changed a lot recently. There are some businesses now that no longer consider the telephone important!
LH: Let’s dig into specifics, what do you look for?
Brian: First, are people working in the office — as in a healthcare facility or do people work from home offices as so many professional services firms do today, or are they hybrid? Do they have field-based technicians? Do they have a call center, or a sales team, for example who are heavy out bound callers, or a help desk with heavy inbound calling. Some businesses don’t have handsets and simply rely on mobile phones. We look at everything.
LH: Let’s talk about the feature sets of the systems you recommend and install for LightHouse clients…
Brian: Our basic system is cloud based. It features talk and text and is great for companies with 3-12 employees. They may use mobile phones. Our entry level system has all the features you’d expect such as auto attendant, call transfer and notifications. Mobile phone users use an app on their phones that serves as their business line. Its solid, reliable and gets the job done.
LH: Professional services firms such as law firms and healthcare may want more…
Brian: Yes, law firms especially are a bit more old school. They want handsets on the desks. And like healthcare they often have shared workspaces such as conference rooms and consultation rooms that need to have handsets and sometimes speaker phones.
LH: So what does the next level up offer?
Brian: Our next level system is by AltiGen. Its a fully featured offering. Its a great system and serves those with more demanding communications requirements. It provides click to call from desktop applications, call recording, call center type functionality such as call queuing. AltiGen accommodates remote call center workers who are not on premise. It also offers realtime call transcription and screen monitoring to ensure that call center agents are fully focused on their callers. For SMS and chat there’s realtime translation. It even offers AI features that measure the sentiment of the callers such as raised voices or certain terms and will alert call center managers if there are problems. Its still pretty early for AI features, they will only improve overtime, but its pretty exciting stuff.
LH: So essentially that would serve nearly all businesses demanding more features. But where do you go from there — how much fancier does it get?
Brian: Well that’s an interesting question! Our “Mercedes” is the priciest but can also be a bit difficult — not that its bad…
LH: Oh so like the real Mercedes that delivers the luxury but is terrible in the snow…
Brian: Right, its Microsoft Voice. Its really for executives who are working inside Microsoft Teams all day. It integrates well with Teams and arrives at a premium price, unfortunately for right now it still has pretty basic features. In a few years it will be one of the top choices — so we recommend it for companies that must have Teams integration.
LH: What can clients expect from LightHouse regardless of the system they choose?
Brian: All systems require configuration and training. The AntiGen system is more fully featured for more demanding business requirements, it will grow with you as you grow, so we provide ongoing support to address growth changes.
LH: The key take away for business is that communications needs are dynamic, but your needs may, or may not be. And, there are dozens of choices — some great and some not so much so. For the best VoIP option for you, it’s good to have an expert to right size the system to your needs, configure it well, and train your team. Thanks Brian!
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